How to Set Achievable Goals and Stay on Track
Tuesday, July 11, 2023

How to Set Achievable Goals and Stay on Track

Success requires setting a realistic target and keeping your eye on the prize.

Have you ever found yourself setting ambitious goals, only to be overwhelmed later by the sheer magnitude of them? This article is here to change that narrative. Understanding the relevance of setting manageable goals is paramount to your long-term success. It reduces stress, fosters a sense of achievement, and keeps your motivation levels high.

Through this comprehensive guide, you'll learn how to set realistic, measurable goals and develop strategies to stay on track. We will delve into the science of goal-setting, outlining practical steps to help you break down your objectives into manageable tasks. So, get ready to transform your life by mastering the art of setting and achieving your goals.

The Science of Goal Setting: Unleashing Productivity and Success

Mountain with flag on top. Many steps to reach a goal.

Goal setting is a science built upon an intricate interplay of psychology and neuroscience. It's not just about listing your desires; it's a strategic process that leverages the power of the human mind to drive success. Understanding this can exponentially improve your productivity and ultimate achievement.

At the heart of this science lies the psychology of setting achievable goals. The right goals can trigger motivation, providing a clear roadmap to success. They also create a sense of purpose, boosting your dedication to tasks and increasing productivity. Moreover, they stimulate the release of dopamine, a neurotransmitter linked to pleasure and satisfaction, each time you make progress.

The Impact of Goal Setting on Success

Goal setting doesn't only spur productivity; it can also significantly boost your chances of success. According to a study by Dr. Gail Matthews, individuals who write down their goals are 42% more likely to achieve them. This demonstrates the power of turning abstract ambitions into concrete plans.

Armed with this understanding, you can harness the science of goal setting to supercharge your productivity and pave your path to success.

Using the SMART Framework for Goal Setting

Smart goal setting graphic

When it comes to setting achievable goals, the SMART framework stands as a proven, effective strategy. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound, each of which are crucial elements of a well-defined goal.


Goals should be clear and specific to provide direction. Instead of stating, "I want to exercise more," make it specific, "I will jog three times a week."


A goal must have criteria for measuring progress. This allows you to track your improvement and stay motivated. For the jogging goal, the measure could be the time spent jogging or distance covered.


Goals must be realistic and attainable. They should stretch your abilities but still remain possible. If you have never jogged before, setting a goal to run a marathon in one month is likely unachievable.


Your goals should be relevant to your life's direction and long-term plans. Running may serve as a means to improve health, help manage stress, or provide a positive hobby.


Every goal needs a target date so that you have a deadline to focus on and work toward. This part of the SMART goal criteria helps to prevent everyday tasks from taking priority over your longer-term goals.

Image description: A colorful chart illustrating the components of the SMART goal-setting framework: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound.

Google's OKR (Objectives and Key Results) Framework

Illustration with man drawing several milestons towards a goal.

Since its inception, Google has been employing the OKR (Objectives and Key Results) framework to set its goals and evaluate progress. This goal-setting system assists in the creation of ambitious objectives and measurable key results. It is a coherent way to ensure the entire organization aligns and works towards common objectives.

How Google Uses the OKR Framework

At Google, every team sets up their quarterly OKRs. These are public within the company, fostering transparency and collective responsibility. Each objective is tied to 2-5 key results, which are measurable, time-bound, and challenging yet achievable. Regular check-ins ensure teams stay on track or refocus as needed.

Results Achieved with the OKR Framework

Google's phenomenal growth and innovation over the years can be attributed, in part, to its effective use of the OKR framework. The system has driven many of Google's successes, including its dominance in search and the development of its ad business.

The OKR framework has proven to be an effective tool for Google and other large companies, and it can work equally well for you. You can set your own objectives and key results for both your personal and professional goals to help measure your progress and  keep you on track. 

Strategies for Staying on Track

Man with bow and arrow aiming at target.

One of the significant challenges we face in life is staying focused on our goals. Whether they're long-term aspirations or short-term objectives, maintaining course is often easier said than done. However, with the right strategies, staying on track becomes a manageable task.

1. Set Clear, Achievable Goals

Setting clear, achievable goals is the first step toward maintaining focus. Well-defined goals give you a roadmap to follow, making it easier to stay on track. The SMART goal-setting framework is a useful tool for setting effective goals.

2. Prioritize Your Tasks

Prioritizing tasks according to their importance and urgency helps you focus on what truly matters, reducing the likelihood of distractions. Tools like the Eisenhower Matrix can aid in this process.

3. Regular Progress Monitoring

Regularly monitoring your progress toward your goals is essential. This not only allows you to keep track of your achievements but also enables you to make necessary adjustments to your plan.

4. Practice Mindfulness

Practicing mindfulness can significantly enhance your focus and concentration. Consider incorporating mindfulness techniques into your routine, such as meditation or deep-breathing exercises.

How Amazon Stays on Track with its Goals

Amazon Headquarters

Amazon's success story is one that is admired globally. The company's ability to consistently achieve its goals is nothing short of remarkable. A key strategy that Amazon employs to stay on track is the extensive use of data and metrics.

Amazon leverages data to gain insights into customer behavior, preferences, and trends. These insights guide their decision-making process, from product development to marketing strategies. An example of this is Amazon's recommendation system, which uses data analytics to suggest products to customers based on their browsing habits.

Another crucial strategy is Amazon's culture of customer obsession. Amazon continually sets goals that prioritize customer satisfaction and uses metrics to evaluate their performance. This approach ensures that they remain customer-focused and on track with their goals.

Once again, what works well for a big companies goal can work equally well for you on an individual, whether your goal is to lose a few pounds or to upskill and position yourself for a promotion at work.  

The Role of Motivation and Discipline in Achieving Goals

Man pushing big rock uphill.

Undeniably, two key pillars in the foundation of goal achievement are motivation and discipline. While motivation ignites the desire to pursue a goal, discipline ensures consistency in the journey toward its attainment.

Motivation: The Driving Force

As the initial driving force, motivation sparks the enthusiasm needed to set and commit to goals. It's the internal energy that fuels the desire to achieve and can often be ignited by imagining the satisfaction and pride that comes with accomplishment.

Discipline: The Steady Engine

While motivation sets the wheels in motion, it's discipline that keeps them turning. Discipline is the ability to maintain effort and focus, even when confronted with challenges or distractions. It's the steady engine that powers the journey toward goal achievement.

Maintaining Motivation and Discipline

  1. Set clear, achievable goals
  2. Develop a routine and stick to it
  3. Visualize your success
  4. Practice self-compassion when setbacks occur

Remember, maintaining motivation and discipline is a continuous process. Stay committed, be patient, and you will surely reach your goals.

Bringing Your Goals Home 

In conclusion, setting achievable goals and staying on track is critical for personal and professional success. By implementing the strategies and techniques discussed, such as SMART goal-setting and consistent progress tracking, you're not only setting the stage for success but also building a habit of discipline and focus.

Remember, the journey toward any objective is seldom linear. There will be highs and lows, but with a robust plan and a resilient mindset, you can stay on track and achieve your goals. The power to shape your future lies in your hands.

Ben Jacklin
LinkedIn Profile

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